“Those who have received from God authority to bind and loose must take into consideration the quality of the sin and the willingness and the readiness of the sinner to return, and thus offer a treatment suited to the sin in question, lest by employing an immoderate adjustment in one direction or the other, they fail in compassing the salvation of the one ailing… for all that matters to God and to the person undertaking pastoral leadership consists in the recovery of the straying sheep, and in the healing of the one wounded by the serpent.”
(Canon 102 of the Penthekte Council)
The above canon beautifully captures the essence of confession and spiritual direction within the Orthodox tradition as a therapeutic science, concerned not with legalistic details, but with the healing, restoration, and salvation of the whole person.
The sacrament of Confession provides the opportunity for the reconciliation and restoration of a person’s relationship with God and the Church when this relationship has been distorted by serious or habitual sin. Moreover, within the context of confession, the priest/confessor also has the opportunity to offer spiritual direction and guidance in a personal, individualized manner.
Confession should not be seen as a prerequisite for every reception of Holy Communion; however, neither should its importance in the life of every Christian be diminished. Regular confession is essential in order to be in proper relationship with God and the Church, and this is a prerequisite for receiving Holy Communion. Anyone who receives Holy Communion frequently should also receive the sacrament of confession on a regular basis.
To schedule a confession with a priest, one should call the church office to make an appointment.
“If thou hast purposed, 0 man, to eat the body of the Lord, approach in fear lest thou be scorched, for it is fire. And before drinking the Divine Blood unto communion, first reconcile thyself to them that have wronged thee…”
(From the prayers of preparation for Communion)
Participation in the Eucharist, the communion of the body and blood of Christ is the most awesome of mysteries: it is sharing in the divine-human life of Christ Himself. As St. Nicholas Cabasilas exclaims “O how great are the Mysteries! What a thing it is for Christ’s mind to be mingled with ours, our will to be blended with His, our body with His body, and our blood with His blood!” (see Life in Christ). For this reason, Holy Communion should always be approached with proper preparation. Two false assumptions need to be addressed in this regard. The first is that one should not partake regularly of the Eucharist because one is not worthy; once or twice a year is sufficient. In fact, this reasoning is faulty, since one is never worthy to receive Holy Communion; this is precisely why they are called the divine gifts. On the other hand, another false assumption is that participation in Holy Communion requires little or no preparation at all. As the above prayer indicates, the Holy Mysteries must be approached with proper respect and preparation, which includes not only self-preparation through prayer, fasting, and spiritual disciplines, but also reconciliation with the believing community, one’s brothers and sisters in Christ.
Holy Communion may be received only by those who:
1. have been baptized and/or chrismated in the Orthodox Church;
2. have had their marriage blessed (if married) in the Orthodox Church;
3. have properly prepared to receive Holy Communion by prayer and fasting;
4. have participated in Holy Confession on a regular basis;
5. arrive on time for the Divine Liturgy (at the latest, before the reading of the Gospel).
In Orthodox theological perspective, participation in Holy Communion is an all-embracing event, presupposing full communion in doctrine and practice. For this reason, Orthodox Christians are not permitted to receive Communion in any Protestant or Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, Protestants and Roman Catholics are not permitted to receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. When you bring visitors to the Church Services, please be sure they are aware of this practice of our Church. Only when all the churches become fully united in faith and practice will we be able to receive Holy Communion from a common chalice.
This Sacrament is celebrated every year on Holy Wednesday, and may also be celebrated occasionally throughout the year, at which time everyone in the parish may be anointed with the Holy Oil for the healing of spiritual and bodily ills.
The Sacrament of Holy Unction may be celebrated any time of the year in case of serious illness. Please call a priest to make arrangements.